As the kids walk in I tell them to take an entrance ticket. I read this aloud to them before they begin. I tell the students this is a tough question but invite them to think deeply about the subject.
Entrance Ticket: Yesterday, we spent a large amount of time talking about our own conflicts. How does studying our own lives help us better understand the literature we read?
I ask the kids to start by thinking about the lesson when we sorted the types of conflict. I give them time to think about the lesson we covered the previous day. It is such a fun lesson, but I want the kids to actually think about why we spent time on this. How can looking closely at our own conflicts help us understand the conflicts taking place in our novels?
I quickly checked in all the logs today, to make sure I had enough time to accomplish everything that had to be done. Then we discuss why. I invite them to first think about it at their tables before they share with the class. Some kids are genuinely stumped. Most deduce that we can better understand the books we read if we first connect them to our own lives. Sometimes I introduce the word empathy, saying that it allows us as readers to feel empathy for our characters, once we understand that they go through much of what we go through. Also, some say it gives us practice sorting conflict types.
Here is a student Entrance Ticket.
Then I tell the kids, today, we'll be reading something very sad. Before I read to you, I want you to think about this question on your own:
Why do people make fun of others?
What's interesting is the kids have a ton of background knowledge on this topic. They all write many bullet points to cover why they think kids are mean to other kids. In our district, there is a lot of elementary curriculum that covers bullying, but it pretty much stops when they get to middle school. So, I find a lot of these issues we have to deal with through literature.
We discuss a few reasons. Most having to do with the people who bully have low self-esteem, or people who are mean to other people do it because it is taught to them at home, or it is accepted behavior within their group of friends.
Then I explain I will be reading aloud from the book Autobiography of a Face. It is a memoir by Lucy Grealy, who was diagnosed with jaw cancer at a young age, and due to her diagnosis, had to have part of her jaw removed. Then I ask, can you guys guess what may have happened because of this? Based on the pre-work, many students can guess that she was bullied because of her face. Many are quick to think aloud, "That is so awful because she had cancer and she was made fun of!" There is this extra piece of empathy that many kids have for Lucy because of her disease. I think Wonder is also a comparable text.
I read the excerpt from Grealy where she is about to enter middle school (adapted from the a Jeff Anderson lesson). I ask the kids to listen for examples of conflict as I read. They jot down their examples on the bottom of the pre work sheet.
When I finish, I ask for the student's input. What conflicts did you hear about in the text? What types of conflicts were these? How did you know?
I choose one, ask them to flip their worksheets over to the the conflict recording side. Then, we record one conflict all together as a class. I choose a simple one that everyone can see and understand. I describe it and then categorize it (person vs. person, person vs. self). Then I tell the students to spread out around the room and use their independent texts to find conflicts in their own memoirs or independent texts.
As kids look for conflicts in their own memoirs, I make sure to circulate to every student, making sure they are on the right track. If kids are struggling with this, I may pull them in small groups to the back table to work with a few more closely. This is a great time to speak with students to make sure they are understanding what they are reading and if they can locate conflicts in their books.